Home » These Are The Only Two Small SUVs That Did A ‘Good’ Job Of Protecting Rear Passengers In New IIHS Test

These Are The Only Two Small SUVs That Did A ‘Good’ Job Of Protecting Rear Passengers In New IIHS Test

Dump Top Iihs Small Crash

There’s big crash test news from the IIHS today showing that automakers could be doing a better job of protecting rear passengers. Plus, we’ve got a big Ram recall, a medium-sized IPO from Zeekr, and a new small Honda Civic Type R race car.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

There’s Still A Ways To Go For Rear Passenger Safety

As a parent, I’m constantly shuffling my child into the rear seat of my Subaru Forester. Do I think about her safety when I do so? Absolutely. Ok, some days I’m thinking: “OH MY GOD HOW IS IT ALREADY 8:30 WE ARE GOING TO BE SO LATE NO I DON’T CARE THAT THERE IS A ‘LINE’ IN YOUR SOCK YOU ARE GOING TO BE FINE JUST SIT IN THE CAR PLEASE PLEASE. SURE, YOU CAN HAVE A GUSHER. WHERE DID YOU EVEN FIND A GUSHER? YOU CAN EAT A WHOLE BOX. JUST SIT. OK, A BAG, THEY COME IN A BAG. I WAS WRONG!” But most days, it’s the safety thing. [Ed Note: What I wouldn’t give for a Gusher right now… -DT].

Dumpc Rash

I therefore took a big gulp today when I saw the latest test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which assessed rear seat occupant protection in a moderate overlap crash (this is crashing into something head-on at a slight offset — 40 percent of the width of the front-end hits a barrier). You can read the report here and see the test above. Here’s IIHS’s summary:

“The original moderate overlap test was our first evaluation and the lynchpin of the Institute’s crash testing program,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “Thanks to automakers’ improvements, drivers in most vehicles are nearly 50 percent less likely to be killed in a frontal crash today than they were 25 years ago. Our updated test is a challenge to manufacturers to bring those same benefits to the back seat.”

The group tested 15 of the most popular small SUVs (that’s what they call them, most of us would call them crossovers) and just two earned a “good” rating: the Ford Escape and the Volvo XC40. The Toyota RAV4 was “acceptable.” The Audi Q3, Nissan Rogue, and Subaru Forester earned a “marginal” rating. The other nine vehicles tested got a “poor” rating. Those were:

  • Buick Encore
  • Chevy Equinox
  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda HR-V
  • Hyundai Tuscon
  • Jeep Compass
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse-Cross

One of the issues that comes up a lot with rear seat passengers is “submarining.” This is where the lap belt slides up the individual, causing the belt to pull force into a passenger’s abdomen, potentially causing an abdominal injury.

This is important work and there are two key details I want to highlight. First, all of these vehicles would have earned a “good” rating on the previous, less strict version of this test. Second, all of these problems are solvable and IIHs rightly takes credit for pushing automakers to improve their front passenger crash outcomes. Now it’s time for the little (or big) ones in the rear to get the same attention.

“We’re excited to launch the first frontal crash test in the U.S. to include a rear-occupant dummy,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Marcy Edwards, who led the development of the new evaluation. “This is a fantastic opportunity to rapidly deliver big safety benefits by adapting technologies that we already know to be effective.”

A lot of the proposed solutions from IIHS seem to be taking front seat technology (like airbags and seatbelt-tensioners) and making them standard for rear-seat passengers.

Honda Gets A New Civic Type-R Race Car

Civic Type R Tcr

There’s a lot of great racing you aren’t regularly watching. Personally, on most weekends I think the competitiveness of an IndyCar race outshines the typical F1 parade. For overall fun, though, it’s hard to top IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge. Where else in the United States will you see Supras battling Aston Martins in one class (Grand Sport) with Hyundais racing Alfas in the other (TCR)?

It’s extremely fun. Here are some highlights from last year:

One of the most successful cars over the last few years has been the Civic Type R TCR racer, which is built for Honda by JAS Motorsport in Italy. Though these cars start life as Civic Type Rs but get race suspension, a modified race engine, and are completely stripped down to make a pure track car that costs about a quarter-of-a-million dollars. There’s a new Civic Type R and so they just debuted the new race version (albeit in camo for some reason):

“We are delighted and excited to reveal the all-new Honda Civic Type R TCR, designed and built by JAS Motorsport at our specialist facility in Italy, and send our most sincere thank you to Honda for not only continuing to give us their blessing for this project, but for their renewed commitment to customer racing globally through a TCR program that we are incredibly proud to be at the center of. The new Type R TCR features significant enhancements in chassis, engine, suspension, and braking, while we’ve used the extensive knowledge gained through the NSX GT3 and Civic Type R TCR Customer Racing Programs to create our safest and most driver-friendly cockpit yet.” Mads Fischer, JAS Motorsports TCR Project Leader

It’s a little less boy-racer than the outgoing version, but I’m enjoying the rear treatment. Plus, Ryan Eversley is coming back to drive one. Who doesn’t love Ryan Eversley?

Stellantis Recalling 1.23 Million Rams Over Malfunctioning Tailgate

Ram 1500

A tailgate has basically two jobs: Stay open and stay closed. The good news about the 2019-2022 Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups is that they’re great at the first job. The bad news is they may have an issue with that second job. Specifically, all Rams from these model years that have the standard tailgate (excluding the Ram 1500 Classic) and not the multi-function one have an issue where the tailgate might just randomly open while driving.

A routine review of customer service records led to a Stellantis investigation that discovered tailgate striker plates on certain pickup trucks may not be sufficiently aligned to accommodate complete closure. Such a condition, if it occurs, may put unsecured cargo at risk of spilling onto a roadway.

Stellantis is unaware of any potentially related injuries or accidents.

Oops! I once loaded up my then-girlfriend’s 1996 Ram 1500 with all the stuff from her dorm and did a remarkably shit job of securing the load and her stuff almost flew out of it as soon as we got on the road. After a quick readjustment and an emergency cheeseburger it was corrected. This was not fun and it’s kind of a shock she married me, so I’d recommend getting the free service if your truck is recalled. Full details here.

Zeekr Files For US IPO

Zeekr 019

You know who has two thumbs and non-ironically loves the Zeekr 009? THIS GUY!  That shit rules. It’s an EV minivan that looks like a cross between a Kia Carnival, a Rolls-Royce, and a Minecraft waterfall. I have already bragged about my successful procreation so, yeah, my dad parts are excited.

As a matter of practice, I don’t invest directly in automotive securities as this would be a conflict-of-interest. I do have money in copper because, well, all this new EV infrastructure is going to need copper, but that’s fairly indirect. I mention all this because Reuters broke the news that Geely’s sub-brand Zeekr is filing for a U.S. Initial Public Offering so it can sell shares here:

Zeekr filed with U.S regulators last week, without providing any details on the size of its IPO or about its listing date, said Geely, which in October had laid out plans to spin off the subsidiary.

Reuters on Monday exclusively reported that Zeekr was aiming to raise more than $1 billion in its U.S. IPO and seeking a valuation of more than $10 billion. That compares with a valuation of about $9 billion in its maiden external fundraising last year.

You should not take stock advice from me (talk to a professional), but on sheer novelty alone I’d love to tell people I was deep into Zeekr. “Oh, you bought Tesla at $300? I bought Zeekr at $17!” I’d brag to them from the 009 I just bought with my sweet, sweet dividends.

The Flush?

This is a multi-parter: How important is a car’s safety rating to you? Do you have kids? Are there cars you wouldn’t put your kids into? [Editor’s Note: Do you think it’s possible to find a partner who would put their kids in, say, a 1994 diesel manual Chrysler Voyager? -DT]. 

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Photos: IIHS, Honda, Zeekr, Ram

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82 Responses

  1. How important is a car’s safety rating to you?
    Its right up there with how many unicorns the car comes with.

    Do you have kids? Yes. Are there cars you wouldn’t put your kids into? David’s FC before he cleaned it for sure. Anything rat infested is my limit.

  2. To me, safety matters regarding what the car has, and not whether it passes DOT safety standards. If it has a roll cage, crumple zones, and restraints(preferably a 5-point harness), the vast majority of the safety you can ever expect a car to have will be there. The most important safety tool is between your two ears. I don’t need airbags, backup cameras, collision avoidance systems, or any of that crap. I don’t need a car that weighs 2 tons or more.

    Some of the safest cars ever driven aren’t road legal, are strictly kept to the race track, don’t have airbags or most of the modern “safety” tech, and often weigh well under 2,000 lbs. The operators can crash at 200 mph and walk away without injury. Most of the “safest” modern cars do not allow for that sort of impulse reduction, even at half the speed.

    I could care less about compliance with legal standards. I like my cars as light as possible, and the only safety devices I need are those things that do the most to improve safety with as little weight penalty as possible. If I had offspring, I’d sooner give them a ride in a Miata NB with full racing spec roll cage, than I would one of these “safe” modern CUV abominations that will twist and shred to pieces if a vehicle heavier than it hits it in just the right place.

  3. I drive my son in either my 2006 RX-8 (those rear doors are actually useful!) or my 1995 oldsmobile cutlass cruiser. He’s two and loves them both. As a kid I rode in my parent’s 1985 cutlass cruiser, so I’m at least 1 decade and abs safer than my parents were with me. Though I guess the ’85 cutlass was relatively newer when my parents put me in it than my ’95 is today. Yikes… I think this means I need to go buy a new volvo. I hope they still sell wagons

  4. FLUSH: I don’t give two shits about cars safety rating… All new cars are soulless boring eggs rocking the same color palette …. IDC if my 62 continental isn’t as safe…. I’ll NEVER be that guy driving a Prius/minivan/crossover/ California Camry… If new cars are so damn safe, why can’t they offer ones not safer? Surely the people buying the safe cars are still ok…

  5. I would total order the Honda with the wrap design if available. Bring it, hail storms and runaway shopping carts. Take your best shot pigeons and suicidal bugs.

  6. ==Do you think it’s possible to find a partner who would put their kids in, say, a 1994 diesel manual Chrysler Voyager? ==

    [voiceover]: This season, on The Bachelor…

    1. The question should be asked like this: “Do you think it’s possible to find a partner who would get in, say a 1994 diesel manual POS Chrysler Voyager?” Jesus David, you aren’t asking for miracles or some such shit are you?

          1. Much as I revere the Shuttleworth song, I’m mostly a lazy automotive opportunist. I’ve picked up a Metro, a Maestro, and an Allegro because they each found their own way to the Seattle area without my intervention, so I’m not likely to end up with an Ambassador unless the circumstances are similar.

  7. 10-13 years ago, I drove around my 2-5 year old in a 280ZX 2+2. So safety?

    They’ll be 15 in less than a month. I’ve got them convinced to get a kei truck. I can’t even spell safety!

    1. Back in the day, I drove my then-infant daughter in a cloth-top and -door CJ5. She now drives a her own Cherokee and old-school 4Runner, and her husband wheels in a built TJ.

      I was a bad parent.

      Seriously, looking back, it really was a poor decision. But the CJ-5 was my DD, and what’s a dad to do?

  8. We’re two retired guys with no kids, so back seat safety isn’t our priority. Any trips with folks in the back are local and relatively low speed. When we do our big annual trip it’s just us and everything in the back but the kitchen sink.

  9. Eeeeh……safety……..
    My fleet of vehicles all have a purpose……safety was a bit of a factor for the latest addition for my 16 yo daughter, but reliability was more so……What is that saying??? Safety 3rd?
    2019 3500 Ram……hauling and towing.
    2014 Honda Odyssey……..the bus for all of us.
    2012 Corvette……..fun
    2010 NC Miata……..wife’s fun
    2010 Mazda 3…………daughter’s new ride. Reliable and safeish????
    None are inherently unsafe, I don’t guess, but the thought of something like the truck hitting the Miata broadside does cross my mind…….

  10. For a brief period, my kids rode in the back of a 2011 4-door Sahara Jeep. 0-60 in a day and a half meant that interstate on-ramps were terrifying.
    The doors were not rated, as their only stated purpose was to shield you from the elements.

    That Jeep became a 2015 Xterra Pro-4 X. Much betterer, in my mind.

  11. I’ll admit to being a hypocrite. I’ll say safety is important but a car’s rating is never a dealer breaker or maker for me. I appreciate modern safety innovations and would never give them up but I don’t shop ratings.

  12. What is the IIHS’ motivation?

    It can’t be overall safety, because their recommendations have demonstrably led to vehicles that are less safe to everybody around them. Safer for the occupants perhaps. However the VAST majority of people are not inside any given vehicle.

    It arguably isn’t the safety of the occupants either. Since I guarantee you that if you crash a vehicle of average size and mass from 20 years ago into any “small SUV” from today that the rear seat passengers are going to fare significantly better than if you crash into them with an average vehicle from the 2022 model year.

    They’re funded by the insurance industry, and their recommendations lead to more expensive vehicle repairs and encourage consumers to buy newer, more expensive to fix and insure vehicles. So they’re certainly not trying to drive cost reductions for the insurance industry….

  13. Ioniq 5: 4500 lbs curb weight. Model X: 5400 lbs curb weight. F150 Lightning: 6000+ lbs curb weight. Hummer EV: 9000 lbs curb weight.

    Given the ever-increasing mass of electric cars, collision safety is a concern to me whether or not I’m driving with passengers. Other things being equal, collisions are only going to get more severe as f=ma is still in effect according to those who administer the laws of physics.

    1. Imagine some rich moronic yahoo driving a Hummer EV from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds and then running a red light at that speed and T-boning, well anything. Whatever it hit will look like a photo coming out of the war in Ukraine. I guarantee it will happen, and that the Hummer will just keep on going as if nothing happened.

  14. I’m 70 years old and never had children. And I almost never have passengers. Being an old fart, I’ve made peace with my eventual, ever-closer death. I don’t mind dying. I mind dying slowly, painfully, without being able to care for myself or think straight. Almost dying is worse than dying. So if there were a choice to make between a 100% safe vehicle that costs a mountain of money or one that’s less expensive but guaranteed 100% fatal in the slightest accident, I’d choose the later. Instead of an air bag in the steering wheel, how about a lethal projectile?

  15. Safety ratings are part of the decision. Not the only consideration, but a lousy score is a deal breaker. I do have a child. Most of the cars I wouldn’t put her in are old AND poorly designed.
    DT, there are 8 Billion humans alive right now. Of course it’s possible to find a partner that will do any damn thing. The more important question is should you be seeking a partner who will enable or challenge some of your (more thick headed) instincts? If it’s up to me, and I don’t have your best friend interests in mind here, you should find an off road junkie who pushes you into going further into deeper mud, knows how to weld, and thinks atf, brake fluid and rust make a sexy smell. Because that’s what is best for me. Fingers crossed.

  16. “How important is a car’s safety rating to you? Do you have kids? Are there cars you wouldn’t put your kids into?” I seem to concentrate on the safety tech more than the crash ratings, but it all comes into play. I want forward collision avoidance, rear collision avoidance, blind spot monitors, and front and rear parking sensors on my new purchases. A 360 view camera is a plus (and almost a necessity on my truck). I do want something safe in a crash, but I’m more focused on avoiding a crash or even a parking lot mishap.

    At the same time, I do drive my kids around in my MGB quite frequently, even though it’s slightly safer than a motorcycle, but I don’t let them drive it yet because they need much more experience with a safer car. I do have 4 point belts and a roll bar, but I know to be very defensive in my driving and I stick mostly to roads with under a 45mph speed limit. At least it stops as fast as a modern car with front disc brakes and a 1900 pound weight.

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